Eighty-five-year-old Courtenay resident Margo Bonnell has never skydived before. But it’s never too late to try something new, is it?
Friday afternoon Bonnell boarded a plane in Qualicum Beach, climbed to 10,000 feet and jumped out, all in the name of cancer research.
“I’m a member of the Eastern Star – a huge charity organization,” said Bonnell. “Our big push this year is prostate cancer. We are taking pledges and we generally raise a lot of money. In fact, in North America, the Masons and the Eastern Star give away $1.5 million every day. We are champion fundraisers.”
According to its website (www.bcgrandchapter.com), the Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization for men and women in the world. Started in the mid-1800s, today there are over 500,000 members world-wide, with approximately 3,220 members in British Columbia and Yukon.
Bonnell, who has lived in the Comox Valley since 1985, is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star Florence Chapter 53, in Courtenay. She is a grand officer this year.
She did the jump with another Eastern Star member, 69-year-old Brian Evans of Nanaimo (Crescent Chapter 10).
Bonnell said the idea was hers.
“Skydiving has always been on my bucket list,” she said. “So the word got out that I was going to do this, and we said, ‘We should turn this into a fundraiser.’ Then Brian jumped in, saying he had always wanted to do it, but his wife, Flo, wouldn’t let him.
“But she said she would let him go if I was jumping, probably because I am an old nurse. I told her there’s not much I can do for him on the way down.”
Flo laughed about giving her ‘consent.’
“I actually told Brian that he could do it as long as it was for a good cause, and raising money for prostate cancer is a pretty good cause.”
Brian said this is something he has always wanted to do.
“It”s been on my bucket list for years,” he said, adding this is a fairly adventurous endeavour for him. “About the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done is last February I did the polar bear swim in Nanaimo, also as a fundraiser for Eastern Star.”
Bonnell said that while she has not done anything quite this adventuresome before, she figures it’s in her blood.
“I always used to talk about this,” she said. “We went to Hawaii a few years ago, and I told my husband I wanted to go parasailing. He nearly had a stroke. He said no, no. So I kind of dropped the idea. But I lost my husband a year-and-a-half ago, so I figured I want to do this.”
She said there are still a couple of things she has to check off from her bucket list.
“Once I finish with this, I still have to go whale watching. And I want to take a helicopter and go up and walk around the glacier.”
Bonnell and Evans raised approximately $2,000 for prostate cancer research with the event.
Bonnell said there is no online platform to contribute to the fundraiser, but if anyone wants to add to the total they could call her at 250-871-7827.
The following clip is the entire skydiving video, courtesy Skydive Vancouver Island.
-With files from Michael Briones, and Skydive Vancouver Island